As I've noted many times before, I'm not a fan of posting these dog bite fatality stories because I think they're misleading. Dogs are amazingly wonderful and gentle creatures -- that are great at integrating into our lifestyle. There are 78 million owned dogs in this country -- and only a tiny number are ever involved in a serious type attack. Unfortunately, when they do, it makes pretty big news -- and often, political leaders make poor decisions based on inaccurate data instead of focusing on the CIRCUMSTANCES that led to the the tragedies. And it is always the circumstances that are the driving factor -- as is painfully clear in both of these incidents. If we focus on circumstances, and proper education of these circumstances, we put ourselves in a better position to avoid tragic events.
Tyzhel McWilliams was an 8 month little boy who was left alone with one of the family's three 'pit bull" type dogs in his home in Lemon Grove, CA. Apparently, while the boy's mother and her roommate talked in the next room, the young boy was attacked by the dog and died a short time later. There's not a lot of information about what led up to the attack - but young children are very fragile and vulnerable and this case, the child had recently become mobile for the first time which may have been disconcerting to the dog.
The incident shows why it is essential for parents to monitor ALL interactions between their young child and their dogs - -and when they can't be there to monitor, they should use things like doors and babygates to separate them from each other. There are a lot of good resources for this information - -but I always first recommend people to Family Paws Parent Education.
The story was picked up in more than 30 media outlets, and it does appear as if this did happen in a poverty-stricken area.
Also last week, a two year old boy was tragically killed by two dogs defined by the Sheriff's office as "mixed breed dogs". The dogs were apparently contained behind an electronic fence -- but the young boy was out on his big wheel and came into the yard where the dogs were and was attacked by the dogs.
I'm not a huge fan of electronic fences -- but do think they have their place when people are in their own yard with their dog. While they do a fine job of keeping dogs in, they don't keep other dogs/children/etc out -- so I don't think it's particularly safe for the dogs for them to be left in this type of situation unsupervised. In this case, the young toddler got into the yard while both the dogs and the toddler were unsupervised and the child is now dead. No one witnessed the attack, so there is no way to even speculate on what may or may not have caused the dogs to attack the child.
Two year old toddlers seem to be particularly prone to this sort of attack -- as they are very mobile (and sneaky quick) and can get away from parents very easily. If you look around your home and think of all the things that could be terrible for a 2 year old to wander into unattended that are just 10 minutes from your home it is pretty amazing. Dogs can be a part of that equation.
This story was picked up by only 13 media outlets.
My heart goes out to all the families in these cases.